Friday, June 3, 2011

The Serengeti

Daryll writes:

The campground (Masai Camp) that we stayed at had a tour office on site, so we enquired to get an idea of pricing.  We were going to shop around, but quickly found out that there weren’t many tourists around enabling us to join a group.  As we spoke to the sales lady, she had suggested that we may have to wait a few days in Arusha before more individual tourists showed up so that we could form our own group.  As we were leaving the tour office, a Dutch couple had just arrived and were asking the same questions we had, so kept my fingers crossed that we could work something out.  An hour later, as we were getting ready for dinner, the Dutch couple (Ivon & Martijn) had approached us and asked us whether we were looking for a safari and wondered if we could all go together.  It was going to be a considerable saving for the 4 of us to join up as compared to all of us going it alone.  We settled on a 4 day tour and managed to get a bit of a discount and once we told Dom what we were doing, he finally relented and decided to join us as well. 


Serengeti means “Endless Views” in Swahili and at 14, 751 sq/km the views do go on forever.  It’s not the largest park in Africa, but National Geographic and other wildlife shows have made it hugely popular for the variety of wildlife that survive here and the annual wildebeest migration.


Day 1 was primarily a driving day.  We left Arusha at 7am and passed several Masai communities along the way.  The Masai are nomadic people and still lead a subsistence lifestyle.  We entered the park mid-afternoon for at least 2hr’s worth of game viewing and it was an amazing 2 hours of that.  Within a short space of time, we spotted our first lion laying under a tree and soon thereafter, a pair of lions sitting high up in a tree.  Along the way, we saw the usual of giraffe, zebra, springbok, dik-dik, topi, warthog and a few wildebeest.  After a while, seeing giraffe, zebra or wildebeest aren’t that exciting anymore and the focus is trying to find the cats (lion, cheetah & leopard).


Our driver/guide wanted to get us to our campsite before dark so that we could put up our tents while it was still light but we couldn’t resist spending some time at the base of the tree where we had spotted 2 leopards perched high up.  The light wasn’t the best due to our positioning, but a leopard sighting is a leopard sighting and the pic below was taken just before he made a leap to another branch.


At dinner, Martin (our driver/guide) offered us an option of going and seeing the wildebeest migration; however warned us that it would take up most of the day to drive to the western corridor of the Serengeti to see the wildebeest as they leave Tanzania and migrate towards Kenya in search of greener pastures and water.  It was a unanimous yes to watch the wildebeest migration.  A once in a lifetime opportunity.


2,5 million wildebeest make the annual migration from the Serengeti (Tanzania) to the Masai Mara (Kenya).  Zebra also make this annual migration together with the wildebeest, but not in the same numbers.  As our guide maneuvered the landcruiser through the several herds that all join and form a train as far as the eye can see and more.  The sound of these wild animals grant and snort as we drove through was comical and a few tried to charge towards the vehicle as it moved, but once the vehicle stopped, they chickened out and ran the other way.  There were thousands around us.  The air was filled with dust as they followed each other around and stayed together.


We had about an hour rest that afternoon before we headed out for the afternoon and it didn’t disappoint either.  I have video footage of a croc coming face to face with a hippo.  The hippo won this battle as the croc got out of it’s way – wouldn’t you?


Day 3 in the Serengeti started with an early game drive.  The 5 of us were pretty quiet for the first hour and a half as we peered out the roof trying to spot anything that moved in the long grass.  Our guide would stop and talk to other guides to see if they had spotted something and apparently it was a quiet morning and then we stumbled upon a male lion feasting on a recent kill.

He was extremely afraid and kept on moving further away from us.  It wasn’t till we stumbled upon a pair of cheetah did we realize that he could have stolen this kill from them as this pair had fresh blood on their faces and licked each other clean as cats do.


Some animals stats on the Serengeti.  Together with several other wildlife, it has the following:-
  • 2400 lions
  • 900 cheetah
  • 700 leopards
  • 14 rhino
and all are monitored to keep the poachers away.

Due to slow internet and time constraints, I have yet to upload photos of the Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater to the Photobucket account.  I hope to have this done in Nairobi.  Stay tuned for more photos.
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